Since we booked our flights we've continued to research the details of what we want to do in each leg, and deal with the practicalities of visas, boarder crossings, avoiding peak monsoon etc.... A combination of stumbling blocks (getting an India visa for longer than 30 days issued before you start a trip of more than 6 months - long long story...) and reading the blogs of others has resulted in what I am referring to as a 're-calibration' (!) of the Asia leg.
The blogs of others has been hugely helpful, plus friends, work colleagues and family have all connected us to people who have experience of the countries we plan to visit, and those people have generously taken time to share their experiences. The result was me experiencing South East Asia fatigue before I'd even left my office. I had pushed for us to do Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, China and North Korea. However 2 weeks after booking our flights and having gone into some depth of research I knew I just didn't want to be spending 1 or 2 days in each place for 6 weeks trying to get round to key places in each country. I also had a vision of some sort of backpackers superhighway of hellish bus journeys and irritating border crossings being hassled for bribes leading to a Mexican standoff in sweltering humidity. We had something we were moving away from and no longer felt appealing.
At the same time Thailand was starting to bubble up more and more in our planning. No one in our family had been particularly keen on Thailand, we saw it as a route into and out of the Asia trip by way of Bangkok. However the more we read, particularly Nomadic Matt's blog (click to see # nomadicmatt ), the more attractive it became. I think we had written off Thailand because its a place of package tours and I had a cliched view of Bangkok as a city full of ladyboys, ping pong bars, seedy western men shopping for Thai brides, and those making their way to and from full moon parties....... When I set my ill informed prejudices aside and got out the library books and re-visited blogs I found a country that seemed to have it all. Without exception we read that the people were friendly and welcoming, the food varied by region but consistently fabulous, the temples stunning (the daughter of a work colleague says better than Ankor Wat!), islands untouched by mass tourism or packaged 'partying', ecological diversity within several National Parks, and cities outside Bangkok that are vibrant and exciting to delve into.
As a consequence we have now decided that from Sydney we will fly into Bangkok and spend 6 weeks exploring Thailand. We will visit a variety of cities, sights, and regions with the aim to get off the beaten track and really get under the skin of one country. Importantly we can also now apply for our 6 month India visa (which we need for our planned 6 weeks in India) in Bangkok and tour round Thailand coming back to Bangkok to pick up the visas before we fly to Delhi - result!
Obviously this plan is subject to further changes (!) but when I think about the Asia leg - now known as the 'Thailand leg' - I feel invigorated not exhausted which tells me its the right decision (for now.......!).
For me this trip is all about having a great adventure with my family. Its taken years for us to finally stop talking about it and do it - simply because it both excites and frightens the life out me! So I'm stepping out of corporate life, where I singularly failed to achieve a work/life balance....to experience different cultures and spend time with those I love xx